Passover Feast

This year, Passover falls on April 23. The term Passover comes from the story of the Exodus and the ten plagues suffered by the Egyptians. When Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites, the angel of death was sent to slay the first born during the tenth plague, but "passed over" or "skipped" the homes of the Israelites.

With its special foods, songs, and customs, the Seder (SAY-der) is the focal point of the Passover celebration. Held in the home, the Seder begins after sundown the evening before the first day of the Passover holiday. For generations, the arrangement of the Seder table, Seder plate, Seder meal, the readings, the songs, and the symbolic foods have followed a certain "order." (Seder means order in Hebrew.) The Seder is divided into three parts:

  • Retelling the story of the Exodus, and partaking of the ceremonial foods;
  • Eating the Seder festive meal; and finally,
  • Reciting prayers of thankfulness, welcoming Elijah the prophet, and singing Passover songs.

Since flour is a prohibited food during Passover, most recipes used during this time call for matzo meal, potato starch or some other form of starch. These ingredients add a pleasant texture and flavor to foods and can be enjoyed all year round ... although they certainly add a familiar flavor to feasts like Passover.

While there are a lot of traditions that come along with the Passover holiday, many families blend ancient traditions with local or family customs. With inter-faith unions becoming more prevalent, non-Jews are often included in such rituals and events and their presence can add a unique sense of community to the festivities. So, this month, we're presenting several traditional Passover recipes to enjoy with family and friends. Whether or not you will be observing the Seder or not, these dishes are a pleasure to enjoy! Happy Passover!

Matzo-Meal Pancakes

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • Olive oil for deep frying

Beat together the egg yolks, salt and water. Stir in the matzo meal and fold in the eggs whites. Heat the oil to 375 degrees and drop the batter into it by the tablespoonful. Fry the pancakes until browned on both sides. Drain. Serve sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

  • Yields: 2-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Macaroons

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 pound Passover almond paste
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal

Beat the egg whites until peaks begin to form; beat in the sugar and fold in the almond paste and matzo meal.

Drop by the teaspoonful onto a greased baking pan and flatten slightly with a wet knife.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until delicately browned.

  • Yields: about 6 dozen
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Mandlen

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cake meal
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • Oil for deep frying

Beat the eggs and salt together. Stir in the cake meal and potato flour. Heat the oil to 380 degrees. Drop the mixture by the teaspoonful into the oil. Fry until browned. Drain and serve hot. If you want to prepare them ahead of time, crisp them in a hot oven before serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Apple Charlotte

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 2 cups grated apples
  • 1/3 cup matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon slivovitz (plum brandy)
  • 3 eggs whites, stiffly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons ground pecans

Beat the egg yolk, sugar and salt until thick and lemon colored. Stir in the apples, matzo meal, lemon rind and slivovitz. Fold in the egg whites. Turn into a greased 8-inch spring form pan. Sprinkle the nuts on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until brown and firm. Cool before removing the sides of the pan.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

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